LSU beats Mississippi St 69-68

STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) - LSU's Anthony Hickey was so good and so calm in the final seconds against Mississippi State, it was easy to believe he'd done this before.

That's because he had.

Hickey hit a short floating runner with 1.4 seconds remaining to push LSU past Mississippi State 69-68 on Saturday night at Humphrey Coliseum. It's the second straight season Hickey has beaten Mississippi State just before the buzzer - and it was a short runner that did the trick last season, too.

"It was exciting," Hickey said. "I made the same play last time we played them. Give coach credit. We've been working on last-second plays."

Hickey's heroics erased nearly an entire game of frustration for LSU (12-7, 3-5 Southeastern Conference), which won despite trailing 40-26 at halftime and 66-60 in the final few minutes.

It was the second of two terrific shots by Hickey, who also hit a 15-foot jumper to give LSU a 67-66 lead with 16 seconds left. Mississippi State came right back with Trivante Bloodman's acrobatic layup to push the Bulldogs ahead 68-67 lead with 7.9 seconds left.

But that just set up some more Hickey heroics.

Hickey scored seven of his 12 points in the final 46.7 seconds. He drove the length of the court on his final shot, and the 5-foot-11 sophomore made the short floater over a pair of defenders to win the game.

While LSU celebrated, Mississippi State was left to wonder where it all went wrong. Mississippi State coach Rick Ray was stunned Hickey was able to get down the court so easily.

"When I called the timeout, I thought I was pretty clear about what to do," Ray said. "But apparently that was not the case."

Mississippi State (7-13, 2-6) has now lost six straight. Gavin Ware led the Bulldogs with 14 points while Bloodman added 12.

It's been a great week for LSU, which also had an impressive victory over No. 17 Missouri on Wednesday. The Tigers didn't play as well on Saturday against the Bulldogs, but escaped Humphrey Coliseum with a victory despite shooting just 4 of 25 (16 percent) from 3-point range.

Mississippi State put together a nearly flawless first half, shooting 16 of 28 (57.1 percent) from the field, outrebounding LSU 20-18 and forcing 10 turnovers.

Ware, the 6-foot-9, 270-pound freshman, led the Bulldogs with 10 first-half points, making all five of his field goal attempts.

Meanwhile, LSU struggled, making just 9 of 33 shots (27.4 percent) in the first half.

"They got into a really good rhythm. Made their shots," LSU coach Johnny Jones said. "We knew in the second half, we were going to have to win each five-minute segment."

LSU slowly cut into Mississippi State's advantage in the second half, getting to the basket with ease on fast break opportunities. Hickey hit a 3-pointer - just LSU's third of the game - with 5:21 left and then Shavon Coleman followed with a short jumper to cut Mississippi State's lead to 60-58.

Johnny O'Bryant hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 60 with 3:13 left, but Mississippi State responded with six straight points to take a 66-60 lead with 1:38 remaining.

Mississippi State could have had a bigger lead, but struggled badly at the free throw line. The Bulldogs made just 13 of 27 (48.1 percent) attempts, including an ugly 8 of 20 mark (40 percent) in the second half.

"It was the (main) factor," Ray said. "If I had the answer to (the poor free-throw shooting), I'd be a free-throw coach and travel the country coaching free throws."

Those misses came back to bite the Bulldogs in the final minutes. Hickey's 3-pointer pulled LSU within 66-65 with 46.7 seconds remaining, which served as the appetizer for his clutch shooting in the final 20 seconds.

LSU won despite shooting just 4 of 25 (16 percent) from 3-point range.

"We worked so hard in practice and in the first half, and then to just give it away like that," Ware said.

Things don't get any easier for the Bulldogs. They have two road games against ranked opponents next week - rival Mississippi and Florida.

"This one right here hurts because it's the second straight ballgame at home we've had a chance to win and then faltered at home," Ray said.

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